Jochen Weber - Photography |  Photo Documentaries


A Visit to the Coffee
A photo documentary on coffee cultivation in Brazil

- Page 5 -

Coffee warehouse of the Fazenda 'Serrinha', Tambaú, with coffee grower Alex

Coffee warehouse of Cooparaíso
The Storage of Coffee (A small excursion)
('O armazenamento de café' / 'Uma excursão breve')

The shelf life of coffee depends a lot on its processing state. With every processing step, it reduces considerably:

  • Raw coffee can be stored without a problem for 12-24 months. It should be protected from light, stocked odourless and neither too dry nor too humid. Then the fresh odour (acidic) starts to slowly escape, but the earthy flavour just like with Robusta Coffee remains. 
  • Roasted coffee beans lose their aroma much faster then raw coffee. If the valve packing or aluminum cans are opened once, the beans should be consumed within 2-3 weeks. The type of storage for coffee, be it as beans or ground, is arguable. It is agreed upon that as far as possible, coffee must be protected from light and oxygen. The spirits differ on the storage in the refrigerator. Some say, it must be kept in the refrigerator, for it to remain fresh longer; others believe that the low temperature is counter-productive. I personally store my coffee beans in the refrigerator. It should be ground shortly before brewing. 
  • Ground Coffee: Once freshly ground, coffee loses its fresh flavour within hours or even minutes. That is the reason, why in bars coffee is always ground just before preparation. Once the vacuum packing is opened, the coffee should be stored as airtight as possible. 

 The Coffee Roasting
('A torrefação de café')

Cooparaíso roasts the coffee for the personal requirements of particular shops with two small roasting machines in the foyer of the company. I could not unfortunately photograph the big Roasting House Partner because of industrial secrecy, however I was able to speak with the Roastmaster and learn immensely from him.

The roasting machines have evolved a lot in the last few years. While the classic roasting process was still based on contact with hot material, i.e. roasting pan or roasting drum, the modern process of roasting is with air: through the movement of the beans in the heated air, an improved heat transmission has been developed, the heating of the roasting chamber from outside is thus avoided today.

The formation of the aroma while roasting does not follow a uniform process. The different processes within the beans could have varying process curves, they must be considered differently subject to temperature and time. Thus, for e.g, the acidity in a coffee develops well in an earlier stage of the roasting process, but it then quickly loses on intensity. In contrast, the body develops at the end of the roasting process, whereby the aroma also forms with it. With dark roasting, the body changes more to a bitter substance, the roastmaster explains to me.

And all of this is different for coffees from varying origins, type of processing and size of beans. Moreover, the process of roasting is crucial for the formation of the coffee aroma. One continues experimenting more and more successfully with various, short and different hot roasts for one coffee.

In order that the roasting process is not left to chance or the form of its roastmaster on that day, the whole roasting process is left completely on the control of the roast machine. The control for every coffee is consigned to a so-called Roasting Profile, which ensures a constant, similar roasting process, where every second is clocked. This roasting process is more complex than I had imagined.

Roasting machines from Cooparaíso

Roasted coffee

Monitor with market prices for coffee

Poster 'coffee cycle'

Map with the coffee growing areas in Brazil

Coffee picker in her daily work

Inspection tour of a coffee planter

 The International Coffee Trade
('O comércio internacional de café')

Cooparaíso supplies coffee to the whole world. That is why it supervises the coffee prices, especially on the New York Exchange, regularly on a monitor in the management floor of the Co-operative (one observes the writing of the city of New York in Portuguese; BM&F stands for BM&FBOVESPA, the stock exchange of São Paulo).

The two most important coffee exchanges are New York and London: In New York Arabica and in London Robusta-Coffee is traded. Price fluctuations are a part of the daily coffee trade, and have, aside from unavoidable influences on the environment, the following causes:
  • Supply and demand vary considerably from year to year
  • Currency fluctuations
  • Fluctuation of additional costs for transport, insurance etc.
  • Differential Business: The precisely defined basic quality of coffee by the Exchange serves as the general guideline in the coffee trade. Deviations from this are manifested in the difference of the actual market price, the so-called differential.
  • As majority of the Brazilian Arabica Coffee (still) is not washed coffee, there is a price markdown for this on the NY Exchange. 

The division of the coffee varieties on the stock exchange results out of, among other things, name of region of origin or port of shipment. Under “Brazil Santos NY2, 17/18” one understands for e.g, it to be a washed Arabica coffee, which corresponds to a fixed quality (=NY2) and has a specific bean size (sieve size 17/18). Only if the coffee is classified qualitatively, can the coffee in accordance to this data, be traded on the New York Exchange, also then without the above mentioned price reduction. The buyers purchase on the basis of this information, often without having seen or having tested a sample earlier.

- - -

In the past various organizations had started support projects in order to ensure the coffee producers a stable income. One of these is for e.g. Fair Trade:

Traditionally the share of prices paid by the end consumer in the producing country is the lowest, from which in turn only a small part of it goes to the coffee growers and workers of the plantation. The Fair Trade, to which coffee is the classic product, attempts to take into consideration and improve this difficult economic condition of the producers in the entire trading process. This has so far led to a different allocation in the value chain and thus a total increase in price for the buyer.”  

(Source: Fair Trade) For more info: Click here!

Average structure of the coffee price:
  • 45.0 %: Tax, Customs, Freight costs
  • 24.0 %: Retail
  • 17.5 %: Dealers and Roasters
  • 8.5 %: Owners of the plantations
  • 5.0 %: Wages of the workers

The underlying price of coffee in a café appears even worse for the coffee farmer and the workers, because we are still talking about only 2-3%, which remains with them.

The majority of the world’s coffee trade have only a few ‘global players’: Share of Worldwide Green Coffee Volume (= Green Coffee or raw coffee): 
  • Kraft 13%
  • Nestlé 13%
  • Sara Lee 10%
  • Procter & Gamble 4%
  • Tchibo 4%
  • TOTAL: 44%

In Germany the coffee industry is likewise an oligopoly: 6 suppliers, among which are Tchibo, Aldi, Nestle and Kraft, share 85 Percentage of the Market. This will be very similar in other countries.

In recent times, some producers have started to dilute the ground roast coffee with up to 12% maltodextrin, caramel and other carbohydrates. The producer justified this as being flavourful.

Traditional preparation method: the 'cafezinho' is brewed

Coffee Story III
('História do café III')

Coffee Crisis and a New Beginning

With the world economic crisis of 1929/1930 came the first glaring decline in coffee prices. The prices fell way under the production costs and Brazil had to destroy a lot of coffee – it was dumped in tons in the sea, so that the price would not sink further. Brazil has experienced many more coffee crises.

  • At the end of the fifties when the strong coffee cultivation in Africa brought a huge quantity of cheap beans into the world market
  • 1989, when the market was deregulated
  • In the late nineties, when the expansion of the Vietnamese coffee industry brought an extreme excess supply into the world market
  • 2002, when the demand could not keep pace with the excess supply created through their own record harvests

Between 1997 and 2003 the Brazilian coffee lost half of its value. Since 2006 the world coffee has market recovered slowly. The production declined lightly, and then the demand rose and has continued to see an increase. In Brazil a turnaround was recorded, especially in the middle of 2010, the coffee price increased once again.

Old "mansion" of the Fazenda Boa Vista, Tambaú

Souvenir cabinet with ancestors gallery of Fazenda Boa Vista, Tambaú

Steam railway at Paranapiacaba

Steam railway at Paranapiacaba

Towards the end of the coffee harvest: everything is already quite dry

Steam Railway ('Maria Fumaça') in São João del Rei, Minas Gerais

Steam Railway ('Maria Fumaça') between Anhumas (Campinas) and Jaguariúna

The steam train arrives after one hour's drive in Jaguariúna

The Railway and Coffee
('Ferroviária e café')

The first steam railway came into operation in Brazil in 1854. It connected Rio de Janeiro with a village close to Petrópolis. Its founder and main investor was the coffee baron and politician Visconde de Mauá.

The further expansion of the railway net was closely linked with coffee cultivation. The coffee cultivation moved from Rio de Janeiro to Santos and over the Vale de Paraiba in the direction of the outback of the state of São Paulo.

Initially, coffee was brought from the plantation to the ports in Rio and later in Santos, with the help of ox carts and donkeys. This method of transportation, which then moved further into the outback, was arduous, long-winded and costly. For e.g. the transportation for the 200 km long stretch from Campinas to Santos required about a month.

The contract for building the railway line from Santos over Paranapiacaba and São Paulo to Jundiaí/Campinas, was given to an English railway company.

Estação Luz, São Paulo

Today, three of the four small towers of the ‘Big Bens’ are still preserved at
the stations. It is said that the English had built these intentionally, clear
and widely visible, for the Brazilian workers. (here: Estação Luz, São Paulo).

The various regional railway companies, which later, built a network of lines individually, were highly dependent on the demand and the price of the goods transported by them. Thus, they came into huge financial problems, especially during the world economic crisis, as coffee incurred deep difficulty.


Gesehen in der Dampfeisenbahn, Strecke Anhumas - Jaguariúna

A youngster ('Moço')

Etymology of the Word “Coffee”
('Etimologia da palavra "café"')

The European Languages have taken the name of the drink partly from original Arabic qahwah and partly from its Turkish form kahveh around the year 1600. This was however, not the name of the plant, but the drink as an infusion, whereby the word in Arabic originally meant “wine”. The Turkish form may have been written as kahvé, because the ‘Ending-H’ was always silent in Turkish.

In the main European languages, there existed two types of words, like in French café or in Italian caffé, and in English coffee or in Dutch koffie. The English forms with a stronger emphasis on the first syllable has an “ŏ” in place of an “ă”, and an “f” instead of “h”. The original “v” or “w” was changed to “f”. The main reason for the existence of two different spellings is attributed to the omitted “h” in less emphasized languages and the transformation from “h” to “f” with greater emphasis in accented languages.

The Germans have rectified their Koffee, which they derived from the Dutch, into Kaffee. The Scandinavian languages have adopted the French version. French etymological researchers, even today, have been unable to come to an agreement on the origin of their word café.

Wherever the word “coffee” comes from, it is clear, that it has its origin in an Arabic word, be it kahua, kahoueh, kaffa or kahwa. And the people that introduced this drink had the word inculcated into their diction. This is best observed when one sees the word written in different modern languages side by side.

Coffee Names in Various Languages
Arabic: qahwah (coffee bean: bun)
Basque: kaffia
Breton: kafe
Cambodian: kafé
Chinese: kia-fey, teoutsé
Chinook: kaufee
Croatian: kafa
Czech: kava
Danish: kaffe
Dutch: koffie
Esperanto: kafva
Finnish: kahvi
French: café
German: Kaffee
Greek: kaféo
Hawaiian: kope
Hungarian: kavé
Indonesian: kopi
Italian: caffè
Japanese: kéhi
Latin (scientific): coffea
Malay: kawa, koppi
Persian: qéhvé (coffee bean: bun)
Polish: kawa
Polynesian: kapi
Portuguese: café
Romanian: cafea
Russian: kophe
Swedish: kaffee
Serbian: kava
Spanish: café
Tamil: kapi-kottai, kopi
Turkish: kahué
Vietnamese: ca-phé
Volapük: kaf

Coffee Planter Paulo on his inspection ride

Coffee Planter Paulo on his inspection ride

I thank Cássia Villela Segato Rizzatti and Paulo Márcio Sobreira Villela with all my heart,
without whose patience, warmth and hospitality, this report would never have been possible.

Paulo Marcio Villela

Paulo Marcio Villela, coffee planter, Tambaú

Café Aroma - Café de Lisboa
Take a piece of your holiday home with you! 
Four specialty coffees from Brazil, Ethiopia and India combine to create a wonderful tastily, aromatic and
balanced coffee. The different flavours complement each other and together create a unique taste experience.

© Copyright-Note

All the photographs and content in this documentary are protected by copyright law.
Copying, duplication and usage of any of the photographs and content without my
explicit and written approval is strictly prohibited and punishable by fine. Any violation
that becomes known to me will be reported.

Page <1>  <2>  <3>  <4>  <5>  |  <Home>